Is Pulp Mill Pollution Aggravating You Or Someone You Know?

by Larry Edwards

September 28, 2012

Update: As a result of the settlement of our litigation, EPA has adopted new regulations that provide some new controls of kraft pulp mill air emissions. Notice of the new regulations was published in the Federal Register on March 21, 2014. (Original article follows)

A fix is at hand for reducing air pollution from pulp mills all across the nation — if you will pitch-in with a short comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Kraft paper mill in South Carolina

Although every eight years EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review and improve its regulations controlling air emissions from these mills, it has missed all three of the required reviews since 1986! The regulations now in force date to 1978, and being based on the 34-year old technology they need a thorough overhaul.

We now have a strong foothold for setting this right. Last month EPA tentatively agreed to a good settlement of a lawsuit Greenpeace and two co-plaintiffs filed against EPA in December over the agencys neglect.

One hurdle remains, though, and your comments to the EPA are needed to get past it.

Where Were At

EPA’s violation of the Clean Air Act is obvious, and it agreed last month but pending its consideration of public comments to a jointly proposed consent decree. The court is holding the decree in abeyance until then. If EPA gives its final affirmation of the decree, the terms are for completion of its review of the regulatory situation by next May 15, and the adoption of all needed regulatory updates by March 14, 2014. A good schedule.

The pollutants of interest. Air pollutants the regulations can limit, among others, are: particulate matter, mercury, nitrogen oxides, turpentine, lead, dioxin, total reduced sulfur (which gives kraft mills their characteristic odor), and of far greater interest now than in 1986 carbon dioxide.


The 30-day public comment period on the proposed consent decree is now open, and ends October 15. Industry may oppose or try to weaken the agreement, so your comments are vital. Ask the agency to affirm the proposed consent decree without any changes. Speak from your heart and your own experience about why this important.

Here’s how you can tell the EPA to regulate air pollution from paper mills:

Your comments must be identified as being for EPA Docket ID number EPAHQOGC20120730. There are three ways to submit your comments:

QUESTIONS? Contact me at [email protected], 907-747-7557.

About Our Co-plaintiffs and Attorneys

Our co-plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity and Port Townsend AirWatchers. For legal work we are grateful to Helen Kang and her law students at the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law and CBD’s Vera Pardee.

Larry Edwards

By Larry Edwards

Larry is a former forest campaigner based in Greenpeace's Alaska field office in Sitka. He has been featured in Alaska Public Radio, The Examiner, AP, and Sit News.

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